Comment on New Books

NATURE AND TRAVEL.

By Oak and Thorn, a Record of English Days, by Alice Brown. (Houghton.) Several of the graceful sketches of travel contained in this book are known to readers of The Atlantic, but they are of such a nature as tempt to a second reading ; for, barring an occasional forced note, Miss Brown’s manner has a charm not indeed independent of her matter, but felicitously making it as good as new a second time. The element of delight in the hunting of small deer is present in the sketches, and Miss Brown shows herself a true lover of the chase, if it be for nothing more substantial than the actual Cranford or Falstaff’s cup. — Spring Notes from Tennessee, by Bradford Torrey. (Houghton.) In changing his base of operations from New England to the South, Mr. Torrey has not permitted his friends the enemy to escape. In other words, in visiting Florida and Tennessee, he has chosen in each case the time when the New England birds are passing through on their way north. A pilgrimage to the old battlefields about Chattanooga gave the opportunity for these latest observations; but when to the older acquaintances a number of native Tennessee birds are added, the reader will not wonder that the author’s attention is not entirely occupied by the historical associations of the place. Mr. Torrey’s studies in human nature are always sweet and refreshing, and if at times the humor seems a bit strained, or the incident perhaps trivial, we are little inclined to quarrel with so good an observer. Indeed, in combining accuracy of observation with happiness of description and charm of style Mr. Torrey is unexcelled among American writers of outdoor papers. For the benefit of ornithologists an annotated list of ninetythree birds is given. — Journal of a Few Months’ Residence in Portugal, by Dora Wordsworth [Mrs. Quillinan]. Edited by Edmund Lee. (Longmans.) The name of Dora Wordsworth is so intimately associated with her father’s life and poetry that many of those who love the poet will ask for no other introduction to this volume ; yet the charm of the book is not borrowed solely from the name of Wordsworth. The simplicity of a poet’s “ beloved child ” runs through its pages, written with the oldfashioned refinement of a lady’s memoirs of half a century ago. The Journal is a narrative of a year’s sojourn in a country still little visited by the tourist throng, with few incidents of note, but enlivened by much vivacious and intelligent description, It is interesting to see her father’s deep and comprehensive love of nature spring up in Dora Wordsworth’s mind as each new landscape appears. Hers is a delight as genuine as his, although to her the highest form of utterance was denied. Throughout the Journal there is no lack of the “ sportive wit ” which her father wrote of, but could never feel, yet the humor is pleasant rather than amusing. Could we ask more of a Wordsworth ? — Venezuela, a Land where it’s always Summer, by William Eleroy Curtis. With a Map. (Harpers.) The book is not profound, but it is chatty and entertaining, and gives us an interesting picture of scenery, history, and life. The author’s point of view seems to be that of an untraveled American. He describes what he found in a short journey into the disputed Guiana territory, but does not discuss the merits of the case, though an appendix contains the official correspondence between the United States and Great Britain. The story of the life of Guzman Blanco, self-styled “ the Illustrious American,” is well worth reading for the glimpse it gives into the ways of South American politicians as well as for its portrayal of a unique personality. — Little Idyls of the Big World : being a few WorldProblems stated, but not solved ; some Human Documents unrolled ; and some Sights that suggest, by W. D. McCrackan. (Knight.) Twenty sketchy impressions of travel make up the book thus magniloquently heralded ; but the magniloquence is in the title ; the sketches themselves show a good observer and thoughtful student.

HISTORY AND BIOGRAPHY.

Brother and Sister, a Memoir and the Letters of Ernest and Henriette Renan, translated by Lady Mary Loyd. (Macmillan.) We have noted the appearance of an excellent translation, by Miss Alger, of Ma Sœur Henriette. Another English version of that memoir is given in this volume, together with the later published letters that illustrate and supplement it, as they do also those chapters in the Souvenirs d’Enfance et de Jeunesse which describe with such extraordinary minuteness and impressiveness the struggles of a young and devout soul with insistent questionings and ever growing doubts. The sister, to whom it may almost be said that Renan owed everything, was too sacred a memory to be introduced to the public in that work, and it is only since the brother’s death that his readers have had the assurance given them, if any needed it, that the few earnest words in the Souvenirs were not a mourner’s tribute to a sister transfigured by death, but only a simple verity. The letters selected by Madame Renan extend from March, 1842, to December, 1845, the first years of Henriette’s life as a governess in Poland ; and though her material care for her family is constantly manifest, the main subject of the correspondence is the spiritual unrest of the young seminarian, which his sister meets, and even divines, at every stage, with her exquisite sympathy. It is the record not only of a tender and passionate devotion, but of a rare soul communion. “So perfect,” says the brother, “was the union of our minds that we scarcely needed to communicate our thoughts. . . . With her a part of my actual being passed away.” Lady Mary Loyd again proves herself an exceedingly good translator, the book is handsomely printed, and the illustrations of the original are reproduced. — A Few Memories, by Mary Anderson [Mrs. de Navarro]. (Harpers.) Miss Anderson’s career, when we consider her absolute want of any artistic training, either hv association or by education, not to mention the more serious lack of a genuine artistic temperament, was almost as marvelous as those of certain aspirants of fiction, who, with the least possible preparation, at once become stars of the first magnitude. “ The life of youth and beauty is too short for the bringing of an actress to her perfection,” wrote a critic whose dictum in this matter no one would be likely to gainsay ; yet to this untaught and ignorantly, if magnificently, audacious girl, for her earliest and crudest efforts came popular favor and its rewards such as the great artists whom she emulated knew only after years of wearisome, not to say painful apprenticeship. So we fear that her object in writing her memoirs — to show stage-struck young girls the difficulties and hardships of the life they long for — will defeat itself, for the volume will be an incentive rather than a warning. Mrs. de Navarro modestly disclaims the possession of literary skill, nor are her comments on things dramatic of special value ; but she has written an exceedingly agreeable and readable book, excellent in arrangement, admirably simple and straightforward in style, refreshingly free from self-consciousness or vanity. From first to last we are in contact with a frank, ingenuous, cheerfully self-reliant, and thoroughly healthy nature. The English reminiscences, recording the pleasantest social experiences, beside notable theatrical successes, form the most interesting as they are the best written part of the work. Half a dozen charming portraits are given, — one from a photograph taken within a year being perhaps the most attractive of all ; but we wish a seventh could have been added, recalling as far as might be the beauty and impressiveness of the central figure in the statue scene of The Winter’s Tale. — History of Prussia under Frederic the Great, 1756-1757, by Herbert Tuttle. (Houghton.) This volume, continuing Mr. Tuttle’s important historical series, was ready for the printer at the author’s death, and is complete for the period treated, a period of great dramatic interest. The subject is handled dramatically, also ; that is, the telling points are brought out clearly from a mass of detail. Controverted points are dealt with thoroughly enough to show the writer’s opinion and the reasons for it, but not pedantically nor in a way to confuse the reader. The excessively tangled diplomacy of the time is made as clear, probably, as it can be made. The account of the very famous battles which occurred in these sixteen months is managed very cleverly, so as to give a good idea of the movements of the troops without resort to technicalities. The style is simple and direct, yet not dull. Professor Herbert B. Adams furnishes a good biographical sketch of the unusual scholar lost to America by death, and a portrait is prefixed. — Charles XII. and the Collapse of the Swedish Empire,1682 —1719, by R. Nisbet Bain. Heroes of the Nations Series. (Putnams.) Mr. Bain has that easy mastery of his subject which enables him to treat a large and complex theme lucidly and not ineffectively within the strait limits set by the series to which his monograph belongs, while its popular character in no wise unfavorably affects its scholarly accuracy and breadth of view. Especially noteworthy is the vivid and carefully considered presentment of Charles XI., a more attractive and also a truer portrait than the unlovely one which Voltaire has made familiar to generations of readers, and the father’s character serves as an aid towards the clearer understanding of certain qualities in the son. Viewing the latter as a ruler, we can hardly fail to regard him as the Madman as well as the Lion of the North, but he was one of the greatest and most heroic of soldiers, a man literally in love with war from his youth up, incapable of fear, absolutely undaunted by or indifferent to difficulties, hardships, and pain, having in a supreme degree many of the traits that go to the making of a national hero. But if at times he seemed filled with the Berserker rage of his pagan ancestors, he was a man of kindly nature, of strong domestic affections, a warm friend, and withal as devout as one of Cromwell’s Ironsides, and austere almost to asceticism in his life ; in short, a perplexing mixture of viking, paladin, and puritan. This book should help correct various errors, the chief responsibility for which rests upon Voltaire’s history, a work that Mr. Bain in his haste is inclined to call a romance, but which belongs to the domain of great literature, and is possessed of perennial life and influence. — The United States of America, 1765-1865, by Edward Channing. (Macmillan.) This volume in the Cambridge Historical Series shows an excellent sense of proportion. Possibly the fact that it was written for an English series by an American scholar had some influence on its form, for it is admirably adapted to meet in a dignified way tbe foolish strictures of a recent writer in Blackwood. A comprehensive knowledge of modern, especially English history is apparent as the measuring - rod, so that the book, though strictly occupied with the history of the United States, is not written as if there were no other history. The discussion of special topics, as for example the New England town meeting, shows the training and the thoroughness of the writer.

POETRY.

The Marriage of Guenevere, a Tragedy, by Richard Hovey. (Stone & Kimball.) It is matter fur congratulation that a few, at least, of our younger verse-writers are beginning to abandon the tiny lyric forms which have so long eked out an apologetic existence in friendly nooks and crevices of the monthly magazines, and are nerving themselves for efforts of more scope and moment. Mr. Hovey has gone at his task valiantly, and has marked out his work on commendably large and vigorous lines. Unfortunately, the dramatic machine proves, in places, too pretentious; for Mr. Hovey’s gift is by no means a distinctively dramatic one, and the dialogue, as well as the characterization, lacks the thrust, incisiveness, and body necessary to an adequate carrying out of the scenic idea. Accordingly, the later scenes, where the dramatic situation grows more complex and the author cannot rely on the liquid flow of his blank verse, are disappointing. To a mind unenlightened concerning the symbolist cult and the immunities granted its votaries, it is a trifle discomposing to find Dagonet, the court fool, furnished forth with a full wallet of Elizabethan quips and similes, and to witness Guenevere engaged in masquerading pranks which remind us of Watteau and the Petit Trianon. — The Road to Castaly, by Alice Brown. (Copeland & Day.) There runs through this little collection a buoyant, healthy, out-of-door strain that is hardly suggested by the conventional title. In such poems as Wood-Longing and Pan we catch the real rapture of communion with the green world, so fatally easy to simulate, so winning and persuasive when genuinely uttered. A West-Country Lover and On the Field have a robust martial ring that is rare enough to be worth recognition, and in such little bits as Fore-Warned there is evidence that the author has not studied in vain the delightful song-writers of the Jacobean and Carolian periods. — In Unknown Seas, by George Horton. (University Press.) Two characteristics of a good poet Mr. Horton possesses in generous measure, the gift of melody and the gift of senseperception. The little lyrics, written for the most part in a six-line stanza with alternating masculine and feminine rhymes, drift along in rich, lulling cadences, forming, dissolving, and re-forming in pictures vivid and delicate as the sunset clouds of the “ unknown seas ” through which he sails. It is perhaps pardonable skepticism which refuses to grant the force of the epithet in the title which Mr. Horton has chosen, since the subjects which he handles so satisfactorily come dangerously near being hackneyed, but it would be ungrateful not to dwell with emphasis upon the sensuous charm and sincere poetic impulse of the little volume. — Dumb in June, by Richard Burton ; Undertones, by Madison Cawein. (Copeland & Day.) The first two volumes of the Oaten Stop Series are bound in attractive Quakerish covers, and are of a size and shape which fit them for pocket companionship. Fortunately, their contents bear out the invitation to summer strolls and hedge-side lingerings with the Muse. Mr. Cawein’s work especially is marked at times by exquisite delicacy of nature-impression, and by a minute but never fussy realism in the treatment of country sights and sounds. Many of his phrases ring clear and sound from a new mint. He has in no small degree the instinct for the “ unexpected and inevitable word.” Mr. Burton’s volume is more reflective and remote, but shows an equal sincerity, and at times a more spontaneous lyrical impulse. — In the Young World, by Edith Thomas. (Houghton.) Miss Thomas’s audience is well assured, and this collection of prettily fanciful verse, dealing with the imaginative world of childhood, will not disappoint the readers of her previous books. — Hills of Song, by Clinton Scollard. (Copeland & Day.) Though there is some undeniably good verse scattered through Mr. Scollard’s pages, there is little which engages us by any distinctive charm, which makes us see an old thing with a new and startled recognition. The hills have been traversed by many bards and bardlets, and somehow the paths seem somewhat worn and unvisited by compensatory violets. — The Pilgrim, and Other Poems, by Sophie Jewett [Ellen Burroughs]. (Macmillan.) Well-tuned, lucid verse, with a note of strenuous thought that sometimes lifts the lines above the level of quiet agreeableness.

LITERATURE.

Two Unpublished Essays, by Ralph Waldo Emerson, with an Introduction by E. E. Hale. (Lamson, Wolffe & Co.) As a boy of seventeen, at Harvard College, Emerson wrote a dissertation upon The Character of Socrates, in competition for the Bowdoin Prize. With a similar object he wrote in the following year (1821) another essay, upon The Present State of Ethical Philosophy. Could two titles show more clearly that the child is father of the man ? Young Emerson was nothing if not theoretic. Throughout the two essays there is a most philosophical disregard of facts. Wrapped up in the unpractical world of eighteenth-century thinkers, — the world of Stewart and Paley, — he loves to speculate and to draw broad conclusions. Even at this time Emerson had read extensively, and what is more, he had learned to appreciate many widely varying schools of thought. Despite its precocity, his mind was still essentially immature. His style is formal and dry, with an amusing touch of the pedantry of a past age ; his thought is vigorous, but not concise. It is interesting to note that the committee of award, among whom sat President Kirkland, Dr. William Ellery Channing, and William Prescott, decided in each case that as none of the competitors appeared worthy of the first prize, the second should be adjudged to Ralph Waldo Emerson. — Sunrise Stories, a Glance at the Literature of Japan, by Roger Riordan and Tozo Takayanagi. (Scribners.) To meet the modern demand for all that is Japanese, this volume gives in popular form a survey of the literature of Japan from early times, and of the myths and folk-stories with which it is interwoven. The stories are told with the simplicity their subjects demand, and that they lack any peculiar charm is owing, perhaps, to their necessary condensation. The translations of Japanese verse with which the book is sprinkled are somewhat disappointing if the reader look for vigorous thought foreign to our own. The book contains, however, much that is curious and suggestive. It will surprise readers of English literature to note the prominence of women at an early stage in the literary history of Japan. — Romeo and Juliet and Titus Andronicus have been added to the Temple Shakespeare. (Macmillan.) The latter has, facing the etched frontispiece of London Bridge, Aldrich’s lines, “ The folk who lived in Shakespeare’s day.” — Shakespeare and his Predecessors, by Frederick S. Boas, M. A. (Scribners.) A study of all the works of Shakespeare, in their approximate chronological order, preceded by a judicious attempt to gather together the results of recent investigation concerning Shakespeare’s organic relation to the dramatic movement in Elizabethan England. — The Gospel of Buddha, according to the Old Records, told by Paul Carus. (Open Court Publishing Co.) A free popular working over of the content of the sacred books of Buddhism, partly by way of translation, partly by way of original elucidation of Buddhist doctrine.

EDUCATION AND TEXTBOOKS.

An Introduction to the Study of American Literature, by Brander Matthews. (American Book Co.) Mr. Matthews wisely follows the course of brief studies of individual writers, for it is difficult to make much of a scientific study of environment and all the other philosophical conditions which teachers of literature dearly love. The sketches are brief, good natured, lively, not too profound, but really calculated to interest young students. A fairly good apparatus of bibliographical notes accompanies each sketch. — The Voice and Spiritual Education, by Hiram Corson. (Macmillan.) Readers of The Atlantic will scarcely have forgotten the suggestive paper by Dr. Corson printed in the number for June, 1895. The small volume now published is upon the same general line, though wider in its reach. Indeed, by an easy road Dr. Corson strays off into the field of coeducation, but his most effective work is his criticism of public readers.

FICTION.

The two latest novels of Mr. Henry Seton Merriman, The Sowers (Harpers) and The Grey Lady (Macmillan), show the same qualities that speedily won recognition for his earlier tales, — a clever manipulation of telling incidents, and a bright and occasionally epigrammatic style. Indeed, we think The Sowers may be considered its author’s best book, despite the fact that some of the characters are familiar acquaintances, especially the cool, self-possessed, all-knowing, and benevolent man of the world, who is the Anglo-Russian hero’s friend and factotum; the heroine, half lady and half adventuress, with dangerous secrets in her past; and the unscrupulous French diplomat; while the rather cheap cynicism with which Mr. Merriman’s society sketches are flavored will certainly not commend itself to the judicious. But the story is told with sustained spirit and force, and will pretty surely hold the reader till the end. The Grey Lady, in every way a lesser book, is burdened with such improbabilities of plot, and the characters, though not without a measure of vitality, so plainly exist for the sake of the story, that it is no small credit to the author’s skill as a raconteur that the narrative, for the moment, almost produces the effect of sober realism. — Mr. W. Pett Ridge, who has of late printed a good many lively and readable short stories and sketches in various London papers, has now brought out two novels, A Clever Wife and The Second Opportunity of Mr. Staplehurst. (Harpers.) Both relate to the world of second-rate but rising journalists, littérateurs, artists, and actors, and in a certain tone and temper, particularly in matters of sentiment, the influence of Dickens is plainly, and in a few instances drolly perceptible. Mr. Ridge’s humor is generally of an agreeable, if too often of a commonplace quality, and there are some happy strokes in his character-drawing. The heroine of A Clever Wife, however, — a young novelist who marries, but from principle endeavors to live a quite independent life, and is of course finally brought to a properly penitent and domestic frame of mind, — never succeeds in being quite alive. Mr. Staplehurst is a popular writer, who, in the calm happiness of his prosperous middle age, thinks longingly of his vanished youth, and for a few weeks is granted the boon of being twenty-two once more, turning the same to exceedingly ill account. It is a little hard for the writer that comparisons will be pretty sure to be made between this fantasy and Mr. Anstey’s Vice Versâ. — The Apotheosis of Mr. Tyrawley, by E. Livingston Prescott. (Harpers.) This tale, which is well written and far from dull, can be safely commended to youthful or unsophisticated readers. Its hero, a young man with the beauty of Apollo, the strength of an athlete (though both his heart and lungs are weak), and the manners and sensibilities of a gentleman, is, owing to an unfortunate training, a card-sharper, and in other ways one who lives by his wits. His regeneration begins when he saves the beautiful daughter of an affluent family from drowning, and forthwith, falls in love. He tries various honest callings, pursued always by his evil repute, and is finally driven to become a virtuous and hard-working coster ; but the dear lost uncle turns up millionaire, and the history ends with a wedding. The story is a curious mixture of realism and romantic melodrama. — Nobody’s Fault, by Netta Syrett. The Keynotes Series. (Lane, London ; Roberts, Boston.) The clever girl educated above her station, who is wretched in the world of her parents and their friends, is not unknown in fiction, particularly in these latter days ; but her trials are recounted here with a good deal of freshness and force. Indeed, the story of Bridget Ruan’s young life is very well told, and it is only when the heroine is reintroduced to us as the wife of a rich, heartless husband that we become assured that we have one of the usual forms of the upto-date novel, with its inevitable finale,— a struggle between love and duty, or, as some of the stragglers would say, between love and conventionality. In this case it is a woman who does not; a certain feeling for her mother restrains her. — Another addition to the Keynotes Series is Platonic Affections, by John Smith ; and the wonder is how it should have got there. For the tales of this series, if often of the Yellow Book order, generally have not been dull, so far as we have examined them. But this very amateurish production is tiresome and unnatural, and its absurdity fails to amuse. — Galloping Dick, being Chapters from the Life and Fortunes of Richard Ryder, otherwise Galloping Dick, Sometime Gentleman of the Road, by H. B. Marriott Watson. (Stone & Kimball.) A fine air of swashbuckler bravado, of wigs and swords, of lonely roads and theatrical inn parlors, together with a really delightful instinct on the part of the writer for what is at once picturesque and humorous in the gesticulating human scene, makes the half dozen stories of this volume capital reading. The diction is a sufficiently good imitation of late seventeenth-century English to satisfy any one not irritably disposed, and the characterization, though avowedly external, is vivid and amusing. — The Comedy of Cecilia, by Caroline Fothergill. (Black, London ; Macmillan, New York.) This brief tale is clever and crude, and, despite the latter quality, is also entertaining in its way. Even though Cecilia laughs from the first page to the last, the title of her history is a bit of sarcasm ; that is, if we are able to take her story at all seriously. But aspiring young ladies at our century’s end are hardly kept in a Clarissa Harlowe state of bondage, and if they were they would beat against the bars with a vigor that would generally prove effectual. Cecilia’s declaration of independence after her enforced marriage is good as a climax and a stroke of poetic justice, but we doubt her living up to it. — Where Highways Cross, by J. S. Fletcher. Iris Series. (Dent, London; Macmillan, New York.) A little idyl telling of the love of a well-to-do and upright farmer of forty for a young woman who, in her despair and desolation, comes to his house as a sort of upper servant. Readers of the slightest experience at once are aware that the heroine’s husband, who was convicted for a crime which he did not commit and who died in attempting to escape, is neither dead nor innocent, and that he will duly appear and bring unhappiness to the farmer, who will behave with great generosity and selfabnegation. An agreeable simplicity of style and an occasional felicitous touch in the narrative cannot conceal its essential weakness and commonplaceness. — Effie Hetlierington,by Robert Buchanan. (Roberts.) It is unfortunate that we must preface any remarks concerning a novel of such undeniable dramatic power by classing it among those volumes which, with small compliment to man, are called men’s books. The more’s the pity, since the fabric of the story is built upon a really noble type of self-devotion. The uncouth Scotch hero, Richard Douglas, loves with unreasoning adoration a worse than shallow girl. The other characters stand within the shadow of the background, and the interest centres on the contrast of the capricious worthlessness of Effie Hetherington with the savage heroism of her lover. Apart from singular originality of plot, the great merit of the story lies in the underlying nobility of Richard Douglas, which, at first hidden beneath his coarse exterior and brutal manners, leaves behind it a clear and fine impression.— Earth’s Enigmas, a volume of stories by Charles G. D. Roberts. (Lamson, Wolffe & Co.) None of these stories arc more effective than those which describe the eternal warfare of wild beasts in obedience to a law of nature more cruel than they. Mr. Roberts knows the depths of the forest, and the senses of his readers are alive to its smells, its colors, and its sounds, Most of these tales illustrate the life of a logging camp: some are dramatic, others highly imaginative, and one — The Romance of an Ox-Team — is idyllic. Throughout the book the author has shaped his language with the nicety of an accomplished workman, though, unlike the very best, he has not learned to hide all traces of his art. — Your Money or Your Life, by Edith Carpenter (Scribners), as we are told in a prefatory note, “ obtained the prize of $1000 in the story competition instituted by the New York Herald in 1895.” It is interesting to learn what kind of a story competent judges have thought most acceptable to the masses of the novel-reading public. The book is eminently “ smart,” As might be guessed, ardent love-making of a popular but unimaginative type is coupled with wild adventure that grows wilder as the plot unfolds. This is, however, the weaker side of the story. The young civilization in the Far West is described with vivacity and wit. — Amos Judd, by J. A. Mitchell. (Scribners.) A hoy rajah, cursed with the spirit of prophecy, taken from his native India under circumstances never fully disclosed, and deposited in the bosom of an honest Connecticut household, is hardly a figure calculated to limit the range of romance. Yet in this novel the author wisely restricts the field of his hero’s adventures. Amos Judd, brought up as a gentleman farmer, pays his court to an unextraordinary girl in scarcely so poetic a manner as one might hope for from a rajah endowed with the beauty and riches of the fabled princes on the banks of the Ganges. The interest, in which the story is by no means lacking, centres in the hero’s gift of prophecy, which lends itself well to the purpose in view, and which the author emphatically and certainly very sanely divorces from all suggestion of hypnotic influence. — An ingenious idea is happily treated in the tale of The Captured Cunarder, by William H. Rideing, now published in book form by Copeland & Day. The assault, capture, and subsequent depredations on the high seas of the good ship Grampania, under the guiding spirit of Captain O’Grady, patriot, Fenian, and pirate, are told with a comic seriousness that might well repay the reader for double the hour he spends in the perusal. — Out of Town, with Illustrations by Rosina Emmet Sherwood. (Harpers.) If the test of a story be in the reading, no accusation against a volume intended solely to amuse can be more fatal than the charge of dullness. There may be worse faults ; that is the unpardonable sin. The offense of Out of Town is aggravated. A series of the faintest of faint character sketches is strung upon an attenuated thread of romance. These sketches, illustrating the life of suburban New Yorkers, are intended to recall to the mind those very scenes and characters from which the reader hopes at least to find a secure refuge in books. True to life Out of Town undoubtedly is, but here truth has long ceased to be a virtue. — The Bicyclers, and Three Other Farces, by John Kendrick Bangs. (Harpers.) It is a peculiarity, and an excellent one, of this volume that in each farce the curtain rises on the same group of actors, although in every case the plot thickens along very different lines. Thus, while the reader has the pleasure of continually recognizing former acquaintances among the dramatis personœ, he is never wearied by protracted harping on a single note. Nothing truer can be said of a farce than that it has a distinct time limit. No broad and unadulterated humor is quite so funny after half a hundred pages have flown. This Mr. Bangs recognizes, and his device accomplishes its end. — Tommy Toddles, by Albert Lee. With Illustrations by Peter S. Newell. (Harpers.) Tommy Toddles’s adventures in the world of dreams are one more attempt to imitate the inimitable. No other child can ever hope to walk in Alice’s Wonderland. Mr. Lee’s book, though not prosaic and occasionally funny, is totally without the irresponsible imagination which makes Lewis Carroll’s a classic. Spontaneity of invention is the best gift of a children’s author. Mr. Lee’s dreams are not dreamed, but manufactured. The really comic element of the book lies in Mr. Newell’s pictures, which give Tommy Toddles and his friends more character than they deserve. — A House of Cards, by Alice S. Wolf. The Peacock Library. (Stone & Kimball.) A pallid and amateurish work, the characters of which persist in appearing of the same unsubstantial material as the house which they inhabit. — A Master Spirit, by Harriet Prescott Spofford. Ivory Series. (Scribners.) This little volume is interesting to the student of the art of fiction by reason of its peculiar technique. The narrative, which is a common enough one in motive, proceeds with a peculiar airy swing and disregard for the matter-of-fact sequence of details, which makes it almost lyrical in effect. As a study in narrative, it is well worth attention. — Anthony Graeme, by Edith Gray Wheelwright. (Bentley.) An abstract and coldly intellectual nature, gradually warmed and humanized by the influence of love to which, for purely selfish reasons, it has exposed itself, — this is not an altogether novel theme, but Miss Wheelwright has grasped it with a good deal of earnestness and imaginative force. The mild English air of the novel, its reliance on familiar types of character and of ethical sentiment, and its occasional lack of the realism that goes with worldliness will not prejudice it too much in discerning minds. — Unc’ Edinburg, a Plantation Echo, by Thomas Nelson Page. Illustrated by B. West Clinedinst. (Scribners.) This well illustrated and handsomely printed and bound little volume is the fourth of Mr. Page’s tales to be reissued in this attractive style.